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Among All the Sages of the Nations of the World, There Are None Like You

161. Rabbi Elazar said, “It is written: ‘Who would not fear the King of the nations of the world?’ What kind of praise is this?” Rabbi Shimon replied: “Elazar, my son, this has been said in several places. However, one should not understand the verse, ‘For among all the sages of the nations of the world, and in all their kingdoms, there are none like You’ in its simple, literal interpretation. This is because it naturally gives rise to evil intentions of sinners – those who think that the Creator is not aware of their dark thoughts, doubts and intents. Therefore, their folly must be clarified. A philosopher of one of the nations of the world came to me and said, ‘You say that your Creator governs the entire Heavens, and that all the Heavenly hosts are unable to attain Him, nor come to know His dwelling place. However, this does not add to His greatness, as it is written, ‘among all the sages of the nations of the world, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like You.’ What kind of a comparison is this when He is compared to man, who is nothing?’”

This is similar to what is written about sinners in Psalms (Tehilim, 73:11-12): “And they say: ‘How does the Creator know? And is there knowledge in Him? Behold the wicked; they are always at peace, rich and powerful.’” This is exactly what the philosopher says. He was one of the greatest sages among the nations of the world, and he came to Rabbi Shimon to dishonor Israel’s wisdom and work in absolute faith for the Creator’s sake, which ought to be in great wholeness, perfection, purity, and integrity, for no thought can grasp Him.

This sage was a representative of the philosophers who asserted that the main principle in working for the Creator is to attain Him, rather than serve Him in faith, for in their understanding, they attain Him. And now he has come to ridicule Israel’s approach.

Hence, he said: “The Creator is above all human wisdom, and thereby He rules, and He bid you to work for Him in faith and purity, and have no doubts in Him, for the human mind cannot grasp Him. After all, even the Heavenly hosts, His legions and angels are unable to attain Him, as it is written of those who say: ‘Blessed be the Creator in His place,’ for they do not know ‘His place.’”

However, the phrase, “as among all the sages of the world, there is none like the Creator” does not imply the Creator’s greatness. Indeed, if this prophetic expression is used in order to exalt the God of Israel and show that He is greater than the god attained by the sages of the nations of the world by their human strength and reason, then naturally, this does not add to the glory of the God of Israel, as He is being compared to trifle and transient forces. On the contrary, this statement shows great disdain for your Creator, when you compare Him to the sages of the nations of the world, who are mortal and restricted creatures. Those were the words that the scholarly sage, who represented the wisdom of the nations of the world, uttered before Rabbi Shimon.

Clearly, The Zohar is referring to some overseas sage who paid a visit to Rabbi Shimon. Just like all the other names of places and characters mentioned in the Torah, the Talmud, and the Kabbalah, names of places, animals, people, and actions described in The Zohar speak only of the spiritual world, the Creator’s actions, and how one can achieve the goal of creation. In no way does any of this relate to events in our world!

Therefore, the “sage of the nations of the world” symbolizes man’s own egoistic property to research and know everything, instead of having faith above reason, as the Torah demands. This human property, called a “sage of the nations of the world,” the egoistic reason, is in a state of constant argument with man’s spiritual, altruistic property, called “Israel” or the aspiration to the Creator. Thus, by opposing it, man builds himself and grows.

162. Furthermore, you claim, as your Torah says, that “There had not risen a prophet since in Israel like Moshe.” There are none in Israel, but there is one among the nations of the world! So I claim the same: there is none like You among all the sages of the nations of the world, but among the sages of Israel there is one like You. However, if there is one like Him among the sages of Israel, then He cannot be the Supreme Ruler. Look closely into my words, and you shall see that I am right.

Here the philosopher (man’s egoistic voice) spoke wisely. He understood that should he speak directly, he would hear precise answers to his questions. It is written: “Among all the sages of the nations of the world, there are none like You,” meaning that there is no one that can attain You. For the words, “there are none like You” imply that You have no equals, that it is impossible to attain You, attain Your degree.

However, since the sages of the nations of the world (human reason) take pride in their attainment of the Creator (that they understand His intentions and actions), they consider themselves similar to Him, for attainment means similarity of properties with the attained degree. This is why it is considered a lie, and that there are none like Him, for they do not attain the Creator, but only delude themselves by thinking that they do.

The philosopher (within man) understood that, and hence began (leading man astray from the path of faith, which surpasses and defies reason) with a completely different question: “If it is explicitly said that no one is equal to the Creator among the sages of the other nations, does it not mean that there are those who can attain Him among the sages of Israel? Otherwise, why would it be necessary to specify that there are none like Him among the sages of the nations of the world?

“But if this is so, and He is similar to you, then He cannot be the Supreme Ruler! Thus, how can you say that the God of Israel cannot be attained by reason and that He governs all? You speak by means of faith in His greatness, but indeed there are those among your sages who are like Him, i.e., those who attain Him.”

163. Rabbi Shimon said to him, “You object correctly that there are those among the sages of Israel who are similar to the Creator, for who resurrects the dead back to life, if not the Creator Himself? Yet, Eliyahu and Elisha came and resurrected the dead back to life! Who causes rain to fall if not the Creator Himself? Yet, Eliyahu came and abolished rain, and then summoned it through his prayer! Who created the Heavens and the earth, if not the Creator Himself? Yet, Avraham came, and, as it is written, the Heavens and the earth were revived.”

Rabbi Shimon replies that the (inner) sage speaks the truth when he asserts that there are those among the sages of Israel who are similar to the Creator. However, in no way does this revoke the simple faith in the Creator’s unattainability by human reason. Of course, He is the master and ruler of the Heavens, and He is so much higher than all of them that even the Supernal angels cannot attain Him and do not know His place.

Yet, the Torah and Mitzvot (commandments) were given to us precisely for this purpose – so that by observing the Mitzvot (making a Zivug between the screen and the Light) and studying the Torah (receiving the Light) for the Creator’s sake, we, Israel (those who aspire to the Creator) would completely merge with Him (in our properties), so His Light would permeate us and clothe in us to such an extent that we would merit (begin to desire and receive the power of a screen) carrying out the same actions as the Creator: resurrecting the dead (correcting egoism), summoning rains (Ohr Hassadim), and reviving Heaven and earth (filling all the Partzufim in all the worlds with the Light of our actions).

In that, we are just like Him, as it is said: “By Your deeds (by experiencing them on myself) I will know You.” However, we attain all this only through absolute and devout faith (the property of Bina), which leaves within us no desires whatsoever to attain Him with our reason (to verify first and act next), as in the path of sages of the nations of the world (our egoism). Our egoism consists of a Partzuf called a “sage of the nations of the world.” Its Rosh (head) designates knowledge and desire to attain everything, and its Guf (body) is the will to receive pleasure for oneself.

The philosopher argues that if Israel can do what the Creator does, then Israel attains Him. This is correct, for if one is able to act like the Creator, then, to the extent of his actions, he attains and perceives Him. After all, it is said: “By Your deeds I will know You.” If one acts like the Creator, then he understands the Creator’s analogous actions in his own actions, and thus perceives Him. However, one must first advance by faith above reason, and as a result, he attains the Creator’s properties, thereby becoming like Him in his actions.

164. (Rabbi Shimon continues:) “Who governs the sun, if not the Creator? Yet, Yehoshua came and stopped it. The Creator issues His decree, yet Moshe immediately issues a decree of his own, and it is carried out. The Creator wishes to punish, and the righteous of Israel annul His verdict. Moreover, He bid us to closely follow His ways and to be like Him in every way.” The philosopher then went and became Israel, and lived in the village of Shachalayim, and they called him Yosi HaKatan (Little Yosi). He studied the Torah a great deal, and was among the sages and the righteous of that village.

The problem is that if a person does everything only by means of his faith, he denies himself the chance to attain the Creator, for attainment comes through applying reason. However, the moment he begins to apply his reason, he immediately diminishes his faith. So how can one combine faith with reason?

It is true that those who aspire to draw nearer the Creator (those who are called Israel) diminish their simple, devout faith. However, they do this only because He bids them to do so in order to attain His actions, and thus become like Him, as it is said in the Torah: “Follow His way” (Devarim, 21). Hence, they observe His Commandments. The philosopher was so overwhelmed by this truth that he became “Israel” and started observing the Torah and Mitzvot.

He was overwhelmed when he had found that Israel’s actions, their attainments of the spiritual worlds, did not diminish their faith above reason, for all of their actions and attainments were based on faith. Israel attains the Creator because He bids them to, not because they desire this with their egoism.

165. And now the time has come to take a closer look at this verse. It is written that all the nations of the world are nothing before Him. Yet, how does this exalt Him? Hence, it is written: “Who sees the King of the nations of the world?” Yet, is the King of the nations of the world also not the King of Israel? The Creator wishes to elevate Israel in all places; this is why He is called everywhere “the King of Israel.” The other nations of the world say that they have another King up in the Heavens, for it seems to them that He governs only them, and not us.

The nations of the world are certain that their Supernal King is not the King of Israel, that the King who sits in the Heavens and governs them is only their King, and that the King of Israel has no power over them. Thus, it seems to man’s egoism that it exists under some other (non-altruistic) system of governance, and not altruism. The egoism fails to realize that the Creator made it exactly the way it is so as to achieve His goal: using egoism, to bring man to altruism, from “for one’s own self” to “for the Creator’s sake.”

166. It is written: “Who would not fear the King of the nations of the world?” (Yirmiyahu, 10:7) That is, their Supernal King is there to threaten and persecute them, and do with them as He pleases. Hence, He should be feared. And all fear Him Above and below. For it is written that among all the sages of the nations of the world (the angels that rule over these nations) and in their Kingdoms (Above) there is none like You. There are four Kingdoms Above that rule over all the nations of the world according to the Creator’s will. And there is no one who can do even the smallest action without His personal instruction. The sages of the nations of the world are the forces that rule them from Above, and all the wisdom of the nations of the world comes from these rulers. “In all their Kingdoms” means that the Creator’s will rules over them.

These lines describe how the bride, who is in a state of exile, prepares herself for her future, final correction. The power of the nations of the world (in every one of us) amounts to conquering us (the altruistic desires for the Creator) and placing us under their power (serving only the body). They wish to drive us away from the Creator’s rule and let other desires, called “the nations of the world’ dominate us. Our egoistic desires, the nations of the world, do so because of their power (tempting us with various pleasures) and wisdom (appealing to our common sense).

Their actions over us (spiritual aspirations) stem from the system of the impure forces and their impure (egoistic) angels (our inner egoistic forces), which give power and reason to the nations of the world. With the help of their wisdom, they (our egoistic desires) lead us (the sons of Israel, those who aspire only to the Creator) to all sorts of doubts and desires to understand the Creator, His ways and thoughts, without any fear or reverence before His greatness and supremacy.

Because of these doubts, we draw far from the Creator and His Supernal Light, which, as a result, passes on to them (our egoistic desires), as it is written, “Tzur (the capital of the impure forces) was built only on the ruins of Jerusalem (the capital of the pure forces).” Thus, they acquire the strength to persecute and humiliate Israel, and force them to submit to their will (suppress the only true path to the spiritual – faith above and in defiance of reason – with their persuasions and proof of their “real” rightfulness). And as it was already explained in the“Introduction to the Book of Zohar” (items 69-71), our inner spiritual enslavement leads to our external, corporeal enslavement, persecution, and humiliation by the nations of the world.

This is the secret of the four Kingdoms that rule over us in our four (spiritual and therefore physical) exiles, which correspond to Sefirot H-B-ZA-M, symbolized by Nebuchadnezzar, as it is written: “Here is that idol, its head made of pure gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of brass, its shins of iron, and its feet part iron and part clay” (Daniel, 2:32-33).

When this idol governs us, the nations of the world mock us, claiming that they have a King of their own. However, such was the Creator’s plan, as it is said: “The Creator hath so made it, that men should fear Him” (Kohelet,3:14), for the sensation of the Creator, called Shechina, is also referred to as fear before Him. However, since we do not yet feel the greatness and supremacy of the Creator, we do not merit fearing Him, and live in fear of the King of the nations of the world.

This points to the fact that we have no other way of completely and eternally merging with the Creator other than by means of tremendous fear before His greatness, by assuming His Torah and His desires (Mitzvot) in devout and complete faith, without any doubts in His properties.

Only then will we merge with Him in absolute, eternal union, and the Creator will impart us with all the goodness for which He had created us. He conceived this in the beginning of creation, and it became the purpose behind the whole of creation. This state is considered the complete and final deliverance and correction.

However, before the attainment of such an exalted spiritual state, this is how the prophet describes those who aspire to the Creator: “You have sown much, and brought in little; you eat but you have not enough; you drink but your thirst is not quenched” (Haggai, 1:6), for in all of our actions (of those who aspire to the spiritual) the impure force (egoism) constantly takes all the Light for itself. This occurs as a result of our doubts with regard to faith in the Creator, which the impure force itself cultivates within us.

However, the purpose of these punishments is not to cause us grief! Everything happens according to the Creator’s plan and serves only to promote us toward correction. Therefore, as long as man can listen only to egoistic arguments, the Creator develops us gradually, using these forces. With their help, we gradually become fit to feel fear of the Creator, through the many trials and sufferings our exile from the spiritual brings us.

But in the end, we merit the reception of complete and devoted faith and fear before His greatness. It is written of this state: “He remembered His mercy and His allegiance toward the house of Israel, and all the worthless creatures of the earth witnessed the help and deliverance at the Creator’s hands” (Tehilim,98:3).

This is because at the end of days, the Creator will remember us in His mercy, and will give us the strength to receive complete and devout faith in Him. Thus, Jerusalem (the capital of altruism) will be rebuilt on the ruins of Tzur (the capital of egoism), for all the Light, which Malchut of the impure force was robbing of us throughout our exile from the spiritual, will return to us when we acquire complete and devout faith, and will shine within us with all its might.

All the worthless creatures of the earth (manifestations of egoism) will then see with their own eyes how our Creator saves (corrects) them. For all the nations of the world (within us) will see that they have always possessed this Light until the very last moment before their correction so as to give it back to us at the appropriate time. And all shall see that “one man’s rule over another is to the detriment of the ruler!” (Kohelet, 8:9).

The burden of our slavery and the impure force’s rule over us (over holiness) harms only the impure force, for it thereby compels us to attain complete and devoted faith in the Creator even faster! And the prophet speaks of this time, “Who would not fear the King of the nations of the world?” for it has now been revealed that He is the King of the nations of the world, who persecutes and dominates those nations. It previously seemed to them (our egoistic intentions) that they persecuted us (our altruistic intentions), but now the opposite has been revealed to them – that they were merely blind enactors of the Creator’s will, our servants and our slaves, whose purpose is to bring us to perfection.

It seemed to us that they were beating us. Now it turns out that they were beating themselves, for thanks to these blows (suffering from unrealized egoistic desires and constant frustration), they have accelerated our deliverance and attainment of perfection (our realization of the need to choose the path of faith above reason). Thus, they have also accelerated their own demise (their own correction).

And wherever it seemed to us (our reason) that they rebelled against the Creator (argued that the Creator is not the source of all reality) and acted (supposedly) however they pleased so as to humiliate us and satiate their base egoistic desires, and it appeared that there was no (Supernal) judge and no law (the advancement of creation toward its goal), it has now been revealed that they have always been fulfilling the Creator’s will, to bring us (all our desires, them included) to perfection.

The same applies to every person in the world – whether he wants to or not, at all times and in every way, he fulfills only the Creator’s will. Why then is he not called the Creator’s servant? Because he acts unconsciously, not of his own will. To compel man to fulfill His will, the Creator gives him some alien desire to enjoy, which forces him to carry out an action, but he does so as a slave of his desire, and not as someone who fulfills the Creator’s will.

For example, the Creator may give man an alien desire to make money, thereby compelling him to open a restaurant so as to carry out altruistic actions as a slave of his egoistic desire.

In other words, to compel us to do what is necessary, the Creator created within us an egoistic desire to receive pleasure, thus obliging us to do His will by enabling us to find pleasure in the actions and objects on which He wants us to work. This is why we live in constant chase of pleasures, whereas in truth we are constantly and unconsciously fulfilling the Creator’s will. This resembles a situation in which children are given many toys to play with, but as they play, they also carry out work.

The entire world is doing the Creator’s will, but our goal, the purpose of our development is to do it consciously. We must attain and realize His will; we must ascend so high that we will want to do it wholeheartedly and on our own, rather than as we do it now – unconsciously and coercively. We must achieve a state when our desires fully coincide with those of the Creator, which designates complete and conscious union with Him.

Thus, it becomes clear that the King of the nations of the world is the same Creator that rules over them and compels them to fulfill all His desires, as a King does with his slaves. And now fear before the Creator is revealed to all the nations of the world. The phrase, “all the nations of the world” alludes to the angels that rule over those nations, such as Afriron, Kastimon, Aza, Azael and others, from whom the sages of the nations of the world (our egoism and reason) receive their wisdom, and with whose help they oppress Israel (our altruistic desires).

IN THEIR KINGDOMS refers to the four existing Kingdoms, which govern the seventy nations of the world (ZON = seven Sefirot, each of which containing ten sub- Sefirot: in all seventy Sefirot) and over us (altruistic aspirations) in our four exiles, which correspond to the impure Sefirot H-B-ZA-M (described as Nebuchadnezzar). As the prophet writes: “Here is that idol, its head made of pure gold (the first Kingdom), its breast and its arms of silver (the second Kingdom), its belly and its thighs of brass (the third Kingdom), its shins of iron, its feet part iron and part clay (the fourth Kingdom)” (Daniel, 2:32-33).

There is not one among them who can make even the smallest action of their own, but only what You bid them. However, this will only be revealed at the end of correction, and all will know that all of our misfortunes and suffering that had the power to separate us from the Creator were but loyal executors of the Creator’s aspiration to draw us closer to Him. Moreover, these cruel forces did nothing else but obey His orders.

And the sole purpose of all that transpired was to bring us to a state where we can receive all the perfection and infinite goodness that He intended to bestow upon us from the very beginning in His plan of creation. The Creator must lead us to complete and devout faith, the result of which will be, as the prophet said: “Then, at once, the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold all crumbled to pieces and became like the chaff on summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, and no trace was left of them; and the stone that smote their image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Daniel, 2:35).

Absolute faith is called “unbreakable (non-crumbling) stone.” After one merits absolute faith, the impure force (his inner egoistic desires and thoughts) disappears as though it had never existed. And all the worthless creatures (reason, logic, philosophy, and common sense), which inhabit the earth, witness deliverance at the hands of the Creator, as the prophet said: “They shall not do evil nor destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters fill the sea” (Yeshayahu,11:9).

167. Yet, among all the sages of the nations of the world and in all their kingdoms, I have found in the ancient books that even though the Heavenly hosts and legions fully obeyed their given orders and each would receive precise instructions to be carried out, but who among them can do it if not You, who will do it better than You? For You excel over them all in both properties and deeds. Hence, it is written: “There is none like You.”

The Creator Himself carries out all the creatures’ actions with His Light, and leads them to His goal. Man’s sole task is the realization of all creation and governance, to wholeheartedly agree with all of the Creator’s actions, and take an active part in the process of spiritual creation.

168. Rabbi Shimon said to his friends: “This wedding must be a wedding for all of you, and each of you should bring a gift (his own part in the common Malchut) to the Bride.” He said to Rabbi Elazar, his son: “Present the Bride with a gift, for on the following day Zeir Anpin will look as he enters the wedding canopy at the sound of these songs and praises of the sons of the wedding canopy, who stand before the Creator.”

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